While all of us may suffer headaches in some points of our lives, we experience various types of headaches and managing headaches is more than taking painkillers for pain. It is important to determine the type of headache that you have been experiencing in order to employ the most appropriate treatment for the headache. While headaches may seem to be the same in terms of symptoms, there are various types of which including:
Tension headaches or tension type headaches are the most common types of headaches. From the name itself, tension headaches involve pressure around the head. They commonly are felt in the neck and nape area as well as on the temples. Tension headaches are usually caused by muscle spasms along the head resulting from poor head and neck position, wrinkling the head often, eye strain and other factors that may lead to spasms of the muscles on the cranium. Since tension headaches usually involve muscle tension, the pain is bilateral involving both sides of the head.
Tension headaches are only mild to moderate and they do not cause nausea, vomiting and disturbances in activities of daily living. Tension headaches can be easily relieved through rest and analgesics.
Cluster headaches are recurring headaches that tend to develop in cycles or groups. Compared to tension headaches, they are severe and may lead to debilitation because of the intense pain. Cluster headaches also appear on one side of the head only and may involve nasal congestion or watery eyes.
Cluster headaches don’t have a definitive cause, but genetics have been found to play a role. Cluster headaches have no cure, but the intensity of pain and duration of which can be minimized through medications.
Migraine headaches are probably the worst headache that you may be feeling. They involve throbbing and unilateral pain characterized as moderate to severe. The pain can actually limit activities of daily living as the pain gets intensified with activity. Migraine headaches may also be associated with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound and other autonomic manifestations not present in tension and cluster headaches.
Migraine headaches also last longer between 4 to 72 hours and may be preceded by an aura that may involve numbness or distortions in vision. Migraines are caused by neurovascular conditions leading to reduced blood blow to the cranium.
Aside from the three major types of headaches, pain along the head may also involve the following types:
Sinus headaches are pain along the head caused by the inflammation or infection of one of more of the sinuses. When the sinuses are congested, pain may actually arise along the forehead and the cheeks. Sinus headaches may also be accompanied by fever as a result of sinus infection. Sinus headaches are treated with antibiotics, decongestants and antihistamines to reduce the infection and inflammation in the sinuses.
Rebound headaches are actually recurring headaches resulting from the overuse of painkillers causing the development of more headaches. Intake of painkillers would normally relieve pain; however, when too much medication is used, the brain may actually shift into a more excitable state causing more headaches to develop. Rebound headaches can also be symptoms of withdrawal from various medications. Treating rebound headaches involve the introduction of painkillers at minimal doses and frequency.
Knowing the types of headaches will help you determine the type of headache that you are experiencing and will help you employ appropriate measures specifically catered to treat the root cause of headaches.